MARXIST HISTOR? start imagining that the French Revolution stood up and did something as though it were a self-acting agent (when we really mean that a certain man or group of men came to some decision or other)—then we are moving into that world of optical illusions in which historians play such clever conjuring-tricks for the purpose of mystifying themselves. Economic factors, financial- situations, wars, political crises do not cause anything, do not do anything, do not exist except as abstract terms and convenient pieces of shorthand. In- the last resort, if we want to see the bursting of the Soutii Sea Bubble we do not apprehend it as a mishap to a bubble or a strange eruption within the bosom of an abstract noun; what we get is a picture of human beings behaving in a certain waff under certain conditions. It is necessary to stress this fact in a manner that may seem childish, because in Marx himself, and indeed in every so-called interpretation of history, this fundamental importance of human beings—this initial appearance of sovereignty in self-acting individuals—is, so to speak, taken as granted. It is men who make history—-who really do things. All interpretations of history must be construed in the light of this fact* For this reason all attempts to simplify explanations and turn history into schematic patterns are limited in their validity and are periodically liable to crack. Con- stantly such systems must be thrown back into the melting-pot; and for the purpose of recovering authentic contact with the past, we must return to the jungle of details and complexities—return to the elas- ticity of ordinary narrative history. In the last resort, 6?